Saturday, March 24, 2018

Captain's Corner: Colin cuts into abbreviated red snapper season

American red snapper can thank Tropical Storm Colin for preventing a bunch of them from getting sore mouths. Rain and squalls kept anglers from getting out several days during the already abbreviated nine-day recreational open season ending tonight. Depths of 120-170 feet seemed most productive. Bonus bycatches included red and gag grouper and large mangrove snapper. There were also scattered catches of wahoo and blackfin tuna. With all the enthusiasm surrounding tarpon season, avoiding crowds has become more difficult. But it can be done. With the tarpon ganging up in the channel just north of Bean Point on Anna Maria Island, dozens of boats are jamming in to take advantage. If you're not comfortable playing "bumper boats," there are options. The many miles of gulf beaches between Sand Key in Clearwater and Longboat Key in Sarasota offer endless opportunities. This time of the season, schools of tarpon migrate up and down the beaches. Patiently presenting baits well ahead of the oncoming schools works best. Soon, the big schools will break up into smaller bunches, making them more difficult to detect. Pick a stretch of beach in a depth where you've seen rolling fish and anchor. Chumming heavily will often draw them to you, even if they're not "showing" well. Bays and backwaters attract large bunches of tarpon in their never-ending search for food and are less pressured. My favorite "honey holes" include Port Manatee, Terra Ceia Bay, the Manatee River, Gadsden Point, Rocky Point, Lizard Flats and anywhere else I find them.

Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.


Captainís Corner: Erratic weather making offshore fishing unpredictable

Continued heavy winds have kept offshore fisheries from settling in to predictable patterns. When things have calmed, nearshore baitfish have bunched up and kingfish and Spanish mackerel settled in around them. Unfortunately, each cold front has chur...
Published: 03/23/18

Captainís Corner: Snook bite is best now in afternoon

So what happened to our spring weather in February? The weather has the fish moving back and forth between their winter and summer spots, and with April just a few weeks away, the air temperature is warming up and should be in the upper 70s and low 8...
Published: 03/21/18
Updated: 03/22/18

Captainís Corner: Windy conditions limit fishing options

The weather and water temperature roller coaster continues. Finding consistent action has been difficult with windy conditions keeping us from fishing many open parts of the bay or out into the gulf. Hiding in secluded backwater areas or on leeward s...
Published: 03/20/18
Updated: 03/21/18

Captainís Corner: Grouper moving in as water temperatures rise

Red grouper have made their move inshore this past week as waters closer to shore have warmed up a bit. Concentrate your efforts on hard bottom areas in depths of 100-120 feet for the rest of the month, and remember that all shallow water grouper are...
Published: 03/18/18
Updated: 03/20/18

Captainís Corner: Cold causes spiny lobsters to go into hiding

The cold front that ended Wednesday drove the offshore bottom temperatures back down into the low 60s. On dives Friday, my dive computer read 62 degrees at the bottom in 54 feet of water. On the next dive it read 60 in 62 feet. We were looking for ho...
Published: 03/18/18

Captainís Corner: Snook are the hot bite

Surface water temperatures have dipped into the low 60s, but the fish donít seem to mind. The longer days get the temperature up and helps keep it from getting into the danger zone at night. Snook have been the hot bite this past week and, believe it...
Published: 03/16/18
Updated: 03/17/18

It has been a crazy month regarding all the drastic weather changes. We experienced a record-breaking warming trend in February, followed by an endless amount of cold weather this month. The arrival times for many spring migrations of fish has been i...
Published: 03/16/18

Captainís Corner: Big trout moving out of the shallows

February seemed like March with record-breaking heat, but now March seems like February with below-average temperatures. This is a good thing. Spring fishing has started way too early in the past few years. The cold-water temperature we have now will...
Published: 03/14/18
Updated: 03/15/18

Captainís Corner: Temperature changes affect fly fishing

Having a fantastic river trip one day where we caught a lot of snook in shallow water on a fly and going back to the same location three days later and not finding any cooperative fish can be very puzzling. What happened? Recent warm weather was repl...
Published: 03/11/18
Updated: 03/14/18

Captainís Corner: Warming trend increasing activity over grass flats

Water temperatures have finally started to climb into the low 70s on the flats. The temperatures have been fluctuating with the past few cold fronts moving through. Large schools of reds should start showing up on the flats in the Pinellas Point area...
Published: 03/11/18
Updated: 03/13/18